CLEVELAND — Navigating loan forgiveness for teachers around Cleveland comes with learning harsh realities. Often times, Cleveland Teachers‘ Union Salary and Benefits Chairperson Cindy Antonio delivers them.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program allows anyone who works for a nonprofit, or at any level of government, and correctly fills out the right paper every year, to get their loans forgiven after 120 qualifying payments, taking most people about 10 years.
Taking it away could make it harder for new hires to become teachers in the first place. Experts say Congress will likely make sure it is part of any budget it passes, but Antonio says the threat of taking it away is still scary for the people who use it.
Only then will all the rest of their debt be forgiven, but with so many details to get right, it’s easy to get wrong.
“I’m running into it daily,” said AXA Advisors of Ohio Financial Adviser Alex Solove. “People are saying, ‘I’ve been in the program for 5 to 6 years, I’m almost done.’ I take a look at their loans and their repayment plan and I have to break the bad news to them: they haven’t even started.”
That’s why Antonio and teachers‘ union started holding four information sessions a year, “getting the word out about how to fill out the application, who to send it to, how to keep up on all your paperwork,” said Antonio.
She estimates they’ve helped more than 300 teachers in just three years. Solove says it’s important to make sure you get correct information because loan companies aren’t really motivated to help borrowers pay less.
“If they’re calling their loan servicer, getting misled, being told they’re enrolled properly when they’re really not, what’s that borrower supposed to do,” said Solove.